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The Strong One

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  • Steve Black
    Mt 12:29 Or how can one enter a strong man s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. I m going
    Message 1 of 13 , Mar 14, 2003
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      Mt 12:29 Or how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his
      goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may
      plunder his house.

      I'm going against 2000 years of interpretation here - but can anyone
      tell me why the strong "man" here isn't Jesus rather than the devil?
      In other words - Jesus is saying that his opponents are trying to
      bind him with their accusations and character slander. If people
      believed that Jesus was acting by the power of the devil (as he was
      being accused) - this would turn them away from him and thwart his
      mission.

      Am I just reaching here?
      --
      Steve Black
      Vancouver School of Theology
      Vancouver, BC
      ---

      The lion and the calf shall lie down together
      but the calf won't get much sleep.
      -Woody Allen
    • Daniel Gurtner
      Steve, I think that is an insightful question which can be particularly problemetic when viewing the pericope alone. I think, however, context demands the
      Message 2 of 13 , Mar 14, 2003
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        Steve,
        I think that is an insightful question which can be
        particularly problemetic when viewing the pericope
        alone. I think, however, context demands the
        traditional view for a number of reasons: 1. Jesus
        has just healed a demon-possessed man (12.22-23) which
        immediately calls forth "binding" imagery with Jesus
        as the agent and the demonic as the bound; 2. Jesus'
        reference to Satan driving out Satan (12.26) suggests
        he understands, again, the demonic to be 'bound.' 3.
        The association by JEsus' opponents of His action with
        Satan seems to occasion Jesus' response in vv. 30ff.
        Furthermore, one is hard pressed to find other
        occurrences of Jesus being 'bound' in any sense save
        his physical binding in Mt 27:2. Hagner (WBC) points
        us to As. Mos 10.1, T. Lev 18.12 and Rev 20.2, the
        latter of which has obvious implications. T Levi, in
        my opinion, is another important source particularly
        for Matthew. Though questions of its date and
        frequent Christian interpolations suggest caution,
        Chap 18 makes explicit reference to binding of
        'Beliar'. Matt and TLevi have much in common,
        particularly views of the temple and Abrahamic
        descendence.

        Other thoughts?


        Daniel M. Gurtner
        St. Mary's College
        University of St. Andrews, Scotland

        --- Steve Black <sdblack@...> wrote:
        > Mt 12:29 Or how can one enter a strong man's house
        > and plunder his
        > goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then
        > indeed he may
        > plunder his house.
        >
        > I'm going against 2000 years of interpretation here
        > - but can anyone
        > tell me why the strong "man" here isn't Jesus rather
        > than the devil?
        > In other words - Jesus is saying that his opponents
        > are trying to
        > bind him with their accusations and character
        > slander. If people
        > believed that Jesus was acting by the power of the
        > devil (as he was
        > being accused) - this would turn them away from him
        > and thwart his
        > mission.
        >
        > Am I just reaching here?
        > --
        > Steve Black
        > Vancouver School of Theology
        > Vancouver, BC
        > ---
        >
        > The lion and the calf shall lie down together
        > but the calf won't get much sleep.
        > -Woody Allen
        >


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      • Steve Black
        Yoju are probably right and the traditional interpretation is to be preferred - but just to make my case a bit I ll give a few reasons why I came up with it.
        Message 3 of 13 , Mar 14, 2003
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          Yoju are probably right and the traditional interpretation is to be
          preferred - but just to make my case a bit I'll give a few reasons
          why I came up with it.

          The tradition reading pairs v. 29 with 24-28 which makes it clearly
          about demons. My suggestion pairs v. 29 with 30-34, which would make
          it a polemic attack on the Pharisees. Certainly the traditional
          reading works - I am not suggesting that it doesn't - although it
          does raise some difficult questions about what Jesus means. When are
          these demons bound? Have they already been bound - and if so when did
          that occur? In the temptations? Perhaps but that seems a bit of a
          reach. You could suggest that the demons are bound by Jesus' words -
          but when then is the strong man "plundered" (if not in his command
          [words] to come out??) - which is a distinct step according to the
          logic of the parable.

          With my reading I am not saying that Jesus is actually bound - but
          rather that Jesus is revealing the Pharisees strategies of *trying*
          to bind him. The irony is that Jesus is finally bound and killed -
          but this turn to his ultimate victory.

          As far as reference in other works - the book of Rev orbits in a
          completely different symbolic universe from Mt and so I am not sure
          it is helpful - other older works might reflect a traditional
          understanding of Mt - Lk for example seem to understand this pericope
          as referring the demons - but of course that doesn't mean Mt did. It
          could be that Mark, the source of this pericope for Mt - might have
          also understood this differently.

          Anyways - there you go... I gave it one for the kipper...


          >
          >Daniel M. Gurtner wrote
          >
          >I think that is an insightful question which can be
          >particularly problemetic when viewing the pericope
          >alone. I think, however, context demands the
          >traditional view for a number of reasons: 1. Jesus
          >has just healed a demon-possessed man (12.22-23) which
          >immediately calls forth "binding" imagery with Jesus
          >as the agent and the demonic as the bound; 2. Jesus'
          >reference to Satan driving out Satan (12.26) suggests
          >he understands, again, the demonic to be 'bound.' 3.
          >The association by JEsus' opponents of His action with
          >Satan seems to occasion Jesus' response in vv. 30ff.
          >Furthermore, one is hard pressed to find other
          >occurrences of Jesus being 'bound' in any sense save
          >his physical binding in Mt 27:2. Hagner (WBC) points
          >us to As. Mos 10.1, T. Lev 18.12 and Rev 20.2, the
          >latter of which has obvious implications. T Levi, in
          >my opinion, is another important source particularly
          >for Matthew. Though questions of its date and
          >frequent Christian interpolations suggest caution,
          >Chap 18 makes explicit reference to binding of
          >'Beliar'. Matt and TLevi have much in common,
          >particularly views of the temple and Abrahamic
          >descendence.
          >
          >Other thoughts?
          >
          >
          >
          >St. Mary's College
          >University of St. Andrews, Scotland
          >
          >--- Steve Black <sdblack@...> wrote:
          >> Mt 12:29 Or how can one enter a strong man's house
          >> and plunder his
          >> goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then
          >> indeed he may
          >> plunder his house.
          >>
          >> I'm going against 2000 years of interpretation here
          >> - but can anyone
          >> tell me why the strong "man" here isn't Jesus rather
          >> than the devil?
          >> In other words - Jesus is saying that his opponents
          >> are trying to
          >> bind him with their accusations and character
          >> slander. If people
          >> believed that Jesus was acting by the power of the
          >> devil (as he was
          >> being accused) - this would turn them away from him
          >> and thwart his
          >> mission.
          >>
          >> Am I just reaching here?
          >> --
          >> Steve Black
          >> Vancouver School of Theology
          >> Vancouver, BC
          >> ---
          >>
          >> The lion and the calf shall lie down together
          >> but the calf won't get much sleep.
          >> -Woody Allen
          >>
          >
          >
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          --
          Steve Black
          Vancouver School of Theology
          Vancouver, BC
          ---

          The lion and the calf shall lie down together
          but the calf won't get much sleep.
          -Woody Allen
        • Daniel Gurtner
          I understand what you are saying, but let me make a couple more points: 1. With respect to paring v. 29 with v. 30: Grammatically you are on shaky ground. V.
          Message 4 of 13 , Mar 14, 2003
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            I understand what you are saying, but let me make a
            couple more points:
            1. With respect to paring v. 29 with v. 30:
            Grammatically you are on shaky ground. V. 29 begins
            with a disjunctive �h� requiring a preceding referent.
            Mark�s (3:27) begins with an even stronger
            disjunctive ALL�, but links it not to a statement like
            Mt 12.28 but rather Mk 3.26, most closely associated
            with Mt 12.26.

            2. With respect to the sequence of events, etc. with
            the 'binding' I'm afraid we can't avoid Rev 20 which
            obviously is a notoriously complicated and
            controversial passage and probably beyond the scope of
            this list or at least my mental faculties at the
            moment.

            3. If you want to consider the Markan �source� you�d
            probably need to examine the material unique to
            Matthew in this pericope � and there is a bit. This
            might be telling of how Matthew intended to use it
            vis-�-vis Mark. That would be an interesting and
            worthwhile project in my opinion.

            4. When you said "Rev orbits in a completely different
            sphere" � I assume you are referring to the
            apocalyptic language and imagery of Revelation. If
            that is the case, I strongly challenge that
            assumption. Matthew and Rev 20 are using nearly
            identical imagery which begs at least some degree of
            comparison, though each approaches it from a slightly
            different way. Though apocalypticism in Matthew is in
            need of further development, works such as David C.
            Sim Apocalyptic Eschatology in the Gospel of Matthew.
            SNTSMS 88. Cambridge: University Press, 1996.
            Apocalyptic imagery is abundant in the parables,
            though admittedly more prominent following the
            Triumphal entry. Clearly both Mt and Rev in reference
            to this �binding� are employing some sort of
            metaphorical language that is eschatological in
            orientation. It would be interesting to try to trace
            this imagery through its alleged �Jewish� origins in
            the Second Temple texts mentioned previously and
            explore how it is employed/modified in the Christian
            tradition.


            Daniel M. Gurtner
            St. Mary's College
            University of St. Andrews, Scotland





            --- Steve Black <sdblack@...> wrote:
            > Yoju are probably right and the traditional
            > interpretation is to be
            > preferred - but just to make my case a bit I'll give
            > a few reasons
            > why I came up with it.
            >
            > The tradition reading pairs v. 29 with 24-28 which
            > makes it clearly
            > about demons. My suggestion pairs v. 29 with 30-34,
            > which would make
            > it a polemic attack on the Pharisees. Certainly the
            > traditional
            > reading works - I am not suggesting that it doesn't
            > - although it
            > does raise some difficult questions about what Jesus
            > means. When are
            > these demons bound? Have they already been bound -
            > and if so when did
            > that occur? In the temptations? Perhaps but that
            > seems a bit of a
            > reach. You could suggest that the demons are bound
            > by Jesus' words -
            > but when then is the strong man "plundered" (if not
            > in his command
            > [words] to come out??) - which is a distinct step
            > according to the
            > logic of the parable.
            >
            > With my reading I am not saying that Jesus is
            > actually bound - but
            > rather that Jesus is revealing the Pharisees
            > strategies of *trying*
            > to bind him. The irony is that Jesus is finally
            > bound and killed -
            > but this turn to his ultimate victory.
            >
            > As far as reference in other works - the book of Rev
            > orbits in a
            > completely different symbolic universe from Mt and
            > so I am not sure
            > it is helpful - other older works might reflect a
            > traditional
            > understanding of Mt - Lk for example seem to
            > understand this pericope
            > as referring the demons - but of course that doesn't
            > mean Mt did. It
            > could be that Mark, the source of this pericope for
            > Mt - might have
            > also understood this differently.
            >
            > Anyways - there you go... I gave it one for the
            > kipper...
            >
            >
            > >
            > >Daniel M. Gurtner wrote
            > >
            > >I think that is an insightful question which can be
            > >particularly problemetic when viewing the pericope
            > >alone. I think, however, context demands the
            > >traditional view for a number of reasons: 1. Jesus
            > >has just healed a demon-possessed man (12.22-23)
            > which
            > >immediately calls forth "binding" imagery with
            > Jesus
            > >as the agent and the demonic as the bound; 2.
            > Jesus'
            > >reference to Satan driving out Satan (12.26)
            > suggests
            > >he understands, again, the demonic to be 'bound.'
            > 3.
            > >The association by JEsus' opponents of His action
            > with
            > >Satan seems to occasion Jesus' response in vv.
            > 30ff.
            > >Furthermore, one is hard pressed to find other
            > >occurrences of Jesus being 'bound' in any sense
            > save
            > >his physical binding in Mt 27:2. Hagner (WBC)
            > points
            > >us to As. Mos 10.1, T. Lev 18.12 and Rev 20.2, the
            > >latter of which has obvious implications. T Levi,
            > in
            > >my opinion, is another important source
            > particularly
            > >for Matthew. Though questions of its date and
            > >frequent Christian interpolations suggest caution,
            > >Chap 18 makes explicit reference to binding of
            > >'Beliar'. Matt and TLevi have much in common,
            > >particularly views of the temple and Abrahamic
            > >descendence.
            > >
            > >Other thoughts?
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >St. Mary's College
            > >University of St. Andrews, Scotland
            > >
            > >--- Steve Black <sdblack@...> wrote:
            > >> Mt 12:29 Or how can one enter a strong man's
            > house
            > >> and plunder his
            > >> goods, unless he first binds the strong man?
            > Then
            > >> indeed he may
            > >> plunder his house.
            > >>
            > >> I'm going against 2000 years of interpretation
            > here
            > >> - but can anyone
            > >> tell me why the strong "man" here isn't Jesus
            > rather
            > >> than the devil?
            > >> In other words - Jesus is saying that his
            > opponents
            > >> are trying to
            > >> bind him with their accusations and character
            > >> slander. If people
            > >> believed that Jesus was acting by the power of
            > the
            > >> devil (as he was
            > >> being accused) - this would turn them away from
            > him
            > >> and thwart his
            > >> mission.
            > >>
            > >> Am I just reaching here?
            > >> --
            > >> Steve Black
            > >> Vancouver School of Theology
            > >> Vancouver, BC
            > >> ---
            > >>
            > >> The lion and the calf shall lie down together
            > >> but the calf won't get much sleep.
            > >> -Woody Allen
            > >>
            > >
            > >
            > >__________________________________________________
            > >Do you Yahoo!?
            > >Yahoo! Web Hosting - establish your business online
            >
            ><http://webhosting.yahoo.com>http://webhosting.yahoo.com
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            >
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            > >
            > >
            > >To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
            > >ematthew-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the
            > ><http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/>Yahoo! Terms of
            > Service.
            >
            >
            > --
            > Steve Black
            > Vancouver School of Theology
            > Vancouver, BC
            > ---
            >
            > The lion and the calf shall lie down together
            > but the calf won't get much sleep.
            > -Woody Allen
            >


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          • Steve Black
            ... You are right - this is a good argument - the particle (translated or here) does connect this with the previous and not the latter sections. This
            Message 5 of 13 , Mar 15, 2003
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              >I understand what you are saying, but let me make a
              >couple more points:
              >1. With respect to paring v. 29 with v. 30:
              >Grammatically you are on shaky ground. V. 29 begins
              >with a disjunctive ëhí requiring a preceding referent.
              > Markís (3:27) begins with an even stronger
              >disjunctive ALLí, but links it not to a statement like
              >Mt 12.28 but rather Mk 3.26, most closely associated
              >with Mt 12.26.

              You are right - this is a good argument - the particle (translated
              "or" here) does connect this with the previous and not the latter
              sections. This particle was added by Mt - as Mk does not have it -
              making it fairly clear that Mt saw this as referring to demons. My
              little theory had a short shelf life...

              >
              >2. With respect to the sequence of events, etc. with
              >the 'binding' I'm afraid we can't avoid Rev 20 which
              >obviously is a notoriously complicated and
              >controversial passage and probably beyond the scope of
              >this list or at least my mental faculties at the
              >moment.

              I'm afraid I don't quite follow you on this step. If I understand you
              correctly - you are proposing what I would call a "canonical" reading
              to explain Mt. But I see no reason to justify the use of Rev to
              explain an ambiguous passage in Mt. We can import the Rev passage to
              make sense of Mt - but I see no evidence within Mt that would justify
              this move. I see no reason to posit literary or even any traditions
              connections between Mt and Rev. Rev seems to orbit in a more
              Johannine universe.

              In any event - I may have entirely misunderstood you on this point!

              >[snip]
              >4. When you said "Rev orbits in a completely different
              >sphere" ñ I assume you are referring to the
              >apocalyptic language and imagery of Revelation. If
              >that is the case, I strongly challenge that
              >assumption. Matthew and Rev 20 are using nearly
              >identical imagery which begs at least some degree of
              >comparison, though each approaches it from a slightly
              >different way. Though apocalypticism in Matthew is in
              >need of further development, works such as David C.
              >Sim Apocalyptic Eschatology in the Gospel of Matthew.
              >SNTSMS 88. Cambridge: University Press, 1996.
              >Apocalyptic imagery is abundant in the parables,
              >though admittedly more prominent following the
              >Triumphal entry. Clearly both Mt and Rev in reference
              >to this ëbindingí are employing some sort of
              >metaphorical language that is eschatological in
              >orientation. It would be interesting to try to trace
              >this imagery through its alleged ëJewishí origins in
              >the Second Temple texts mentioned previously and
              >explore how it is employed/modified in the Christian
              >tradition.

              Simply sharing a apocalyptic approach does not mean that metaphors
              will signify the same things. Mt and Rev use language very
              differently and so attempting to understand one by the other I think
              will tend to suggest false comparisons.

              Sincerely
              --
              Steve Black
              Vancouver School of Theology
              Vancouver, BC
              ---

              The lion and the calf shall lie down together
              but the calf won't get much sleep.
              -Woody Allen
            • Daniel Gurtner
              ... canonical reading ... Sorry to be so vague. What I meant primarily by this was that the questions you asked previously are nearly identical to those
              Message 6 of 13 , Mar 17, 2003
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                >I'm afraid I don't quite follow you on this step. If
                >I understand you
                >correctly - you are proposing what I would call >a
                "canonical" reading
                >to explain Mt. But I see no reason to justify the
                >use of Rev to
                >explain an ambiguous passage in Mt. We can import
                >the Rev passage to
                >make sense of Mt - but I see no evidence within Mt
                >that would justify
                >this move. I see no reason to posit literary or even
                >any traditions
                >connections between Mt and Rev. Rev seems to orbit
                >in a more
                >Johannine universe.
                Sorry to be so vague. What I meant primarily by this
                was that the questions you asked previously are nearly
                identical to those raised for the Rev 20 text. They
                tend to be more comprehensively discussed there.


                >Simply sharing a apocalyptic approach does not mean
                >that metaphors
                >will signify the same things. Mt and Rev use
                >language very
                >differently and so attempting to understand one by
                >the other I think
                >will tend to suggest false comparisons.
                Excellent point, and I�m with you to a degree. We
                must let Matthew be Matthew and look to him primarily
                for his own understanding of the pericope. Thus we
                look at themes, language, OT allusions, etc. I agree
                that just because they share a similar portion of
                genre (if we can call apocalyptic that) and canonical
                status can lead to, as you say, �false comparisons�.
                (I must add this applies not just to using Revelation
                in Matthew, but also Mark in Matthew � a method too
                often used in my opinion).

                While I do recognize validity in a �canonical� reading
                I have more in mind what I consider an �intertextual�
                reading. That is, there are texts in the Assumption of
                Moses, T. Levi and Rev which are quite similar to the
                Matthean texts. While one must examine each of these
                texts and contexts in detail before one can discern
                what, if any, comparisons can be made, I think that
                the fact that the issue of the binding of Satan is one
                so rarely attested in either Jewish or Christian
                sources from antiquity some degree of consultation is
                in order. Moreover, if you examine the Matthean text
                without regard to Rev whatsoever, you run the risk of
                assuming Matthew wrote in a theological vacuum when it
                is more likely that he wrote within an evolving
                Christian tradition. Again, their uses of the concept
                may differ but to write off the Rev text off hand
                because it is a different work than Matthew may
                equally lead to a distortion. That being said, I must
                confess a great deal of ignorance on apocalypticism in
                Matthew so my ability to comment on it vis-�-vis
                Revelation is quite limited.

                I do want to ask, however, what you mean by �Rev seems
                to orbit in a more Johannine universe�?


                Daniel M. Gurtner
                St. Mary�s College
                University of St. Andrews, Scotland


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